2020 massively accelerated changes in the workplace and the deployment of technologies that were enabling these changes. As the workforce dispersed to all corners of suburbia (and beyond), the initial challenges were basic – get online, access the applications where company data resides, make phones calls.
Indeed by the end of 2020, most businesses found answers to these basic needs, and a new normal had been established. It’s fairly common nowadays to begin a Zoom call with a round of “home-schooling child in the background” disclaimers. And many larger organisations were already addressing the more “human” considerations like seating, desks, lighting, and background noise. It’s just that they were doing it for one working environment instead of hundreds. Physical and mental wellbeing will be increasingly at the core of home-working policies. Performance Management and productivity for the employer alongside the application of company policies and processes will need adapting too.
Such was the impact of this rapid change; studies began to emerge (Organisational support for the work-life balance of home-based workers), which is trying to establish whether the correct balance is being struck between employer and employee.
As organisations figure out the best way for staff to work remotely, we hear a lot about technology, as well as emotional support, staying connected, and communicating changes clearly. But don’t underestimate the importance of tangible materials such as desks, monitors, and chairs:
Returning to work in the future of work, a Deloitte article from early on in the pandemic provided an interesting perspective on workplace change.
As the COVID-19 pandemic drives profound societal and organizational shifts, leaders have the opportunity to return to work by designing the future of work, building on the lessons and practices their organizations executed during the crisis.
This BCG article from last August gave a useful insight from 12,00 employees on topics such as collaboration. It found that whilst many felt they had retained high levels of productivity when considering their own personal tasks, they felt less than productive when working on tasks that required collaboration. Lack of face to face contact will have played a role in that, but so has technology.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic, health, and social devastation, it has also created an unprecedented opportunity: to run the world’s biggest-ever workplace experiment. This experience is yielding fascinating insights that have significant implications for the way we should organize work.
Microsoft 365 now includes such a raft of applications and add-ons, it can be challenging to work out where they all fit in your business processes and company culture. And that’s before you start to look outside the Microsoft environment at other collaboration tools.
For many, basic functionality may always be enough, but for others, the requirements evolved quickly. The pandemic drove a rapid deployment of VOIP solutions, for example. We’ve been deploying robust telephony solutions for our customers for some years now, but what if you are a company that requires industry compliant Call Recording? Or complex call routing for your call centre staff? Pressure built quickly on businesses to ensure that some of these rapidly deployed home-working solutions were secure and fit for purpose. We are delighted to have helped a number of our customers solve some of these challenging issues.
A massive rise in demand for connectivity led to strains on the networks at times and in places it had never seen before. Concentrations of homeworkers in urban locations impacted internet speeds, with many finding traditional broadband or mobile networks struggling to support the more data-thirsty and quality demanding applications like voice, VPN and video.
A quick side note, we created a couple of slides last year to help our clients better understand their home internet and work from home.
So what does the future hold? Well, rapid IoT growth will continue, but connectivity providers may need to re-think how and where to deploy the networks required to support the development of home-working alongside it. Customer behaviours are also changing, demanding quicker and more effective responses to online enquiries, meaning tools like online chat becoming more prevalent.
What’s clear is the need for partnerships with companies that can help lead you through change, provide the inspiration and guidance to make sure your technology matches your business goals.
Technology that affords you the agility and flexibility to respond when rapid change is forced upon you. Resilience no longer means just coping in a disaster, its part of the day to day business.
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